Common Sense Corner

By Fayez Khozindar - Posted on 15 June 2008

Do you hate short trips from the airport? I don’t, and after you read this column I think you will change your mind and agree with me. There is nothing wrong with short trip fares from the airport, and your passengers cannot help living in a short trip zone. You cannot change this fact, so don’t get mad or agitated, because this is not going to change anything. If you sound any objections or bad comments, you will be accused of being rude and disrespectful, and your passenger might get out of your cab and tell the starter. You will be sent back to the staging area to wait for another two hours and for a new fare.

So why go through all this when you can be nice, helpful and pleasant? Many times I go to the economy lot, which is only five minutes away from the terminal, and I get $20 in five minutes! I have had this experience many times, because I did not sound any objections. After this fare, you can go back to the terminal without paying stamps, and when you go to the downtown area, or the city or the suburbs you’ll make another $45. If you put them together, the short trip and the long trip will net you about $65- exactly like going to the suburbs at a meter and a half.

We’ve all experienced traveling by air flights, and have arrived frustrated, fatigued and disappointed- sometimes by cancelled flights, and sometimes by lost luggage. This stress affects our passengers too. We, the drivers, are the first people to meet and greet these passengers on the ground, and if we have any slight argument with the passengers, they will explode in our faces. Why? Because they think they can get away with it, or because they think we have no human rights, or even because they think we are second or third class citizens. But we drivers must act properly with them, even when they are being impatient; otherwise we will be seen as at fault.

This story happened one night when weather-related delays caused long lines at the terminal, cancellations, and delays- it was a madhouse in general. So what would you do if someone got into your cab at O’Hare and told you “Park Ridge, fuck you, no tip”? When a guy got into my cab with his wife and told me that very phrase, I simply left my cab and I explained the situation to the starter and requested that he remove this couple from my cab. But instead, the starter told me the story behind his behavior: he told me that this couple had a problem with the previous driver because, he got agitated when they told him he was going to Park Ridge.

That’s why they left that cab and came to me with so much frustration and anger. When I heard this, I just simply felt sorry for him, and I went back to my cab, and I took him to his destination. Guess what? All the way to his home, he and his wife and were apologizing to me, because I was polite and at the end of the trip I got a nice tip.

The point is no matter how frustrated the passenger is, you have to play it cool, and you have to know that there must be something behind his frustration- sometimes its one of our own that made him upset.

And something else, most of us hate to go to Terminal 5 which is really unbelievable because, while I end up with short trips sometimes, most of the times I get long trips. Have you heard of General Mitchell airport? If you don’t know, its in Milwaukee- I went to Milwaukee from Terminal 5!

Have you heard of Sleepy Hollow? It’s a suburb not even in the handbook- when an elderly lady got into my cab and asked the starter “How much to Sleepy Hollow?” He could not even find the price. I just told her that I have some idea where Sleepy Hollow is- by west Dundee North on Route 31. I passed there and I saw Sleepy Hollow, but she did not have an exact address. Finally, she got an address from her daughter, I called home, and I asked my wife to give me the exact direction to her daughter’s home at Sleepy Hollow, and I got her there safe. The fare was over $100.00 and she paid $20.00 tip, so it wasn’t too bad to go to Terminal 5!

My fellow cabdrivers, whichever customer you get, at the end the drivers are the winner. You cannot change the fact that you are going to Evanston, Oak Park or even to the Economy Lot. Its always business and business is good for drivers.

Another tip I would offer is this: always tell your customers about your background-if the customer ask you questions, do answer, and if you have a story, tell it… This personal touch will have some effect, and the tip will skyrocket. So do that, and you’ll find out you’ll get good tip. Be friendly!

And remember there is a new slogan in town: “take my lane, take my turn, just give me a signal”- don’t forget it!

Next Issue: “How patience, respect and common sense gained me $50 in tips…”